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'The beauty of Siberia took me by surprise'
Ian Frazier, 2013

The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia

By The Siberian Times reporter
27 December 2019

Congratulations to South Korean photographer Choi Kisoon for getting unique footage.

To get this footage, South Korean wildlife photographer Choi Kisoon spent five days hidden inside a small hut at the reserve’s territory. Picture: Choi Kisoon 

This must be the best natural habitat video ever taken of the Far Eastern leopard, one of less than a 100 cats living in the wild. 

A grown-up male Leo12M aka Typhoon was filmed from the world’s only specially designed place for observing Amur leopards at the Land of the Leopard Nature Reserve.

To get this footage, South Korean wildlife photographer Choi Kisoon spent five days hidden inside a small hut at the reserve’s territory. 

He was lucky to see the majestic animal from as close as seven metres away.  

The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia


The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia


The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia


The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia
Leo12M aka Typhoon. Pictures: Choi Kisoon


Leo12M is one of the oldest male Amur leopards inhabiting the protected area west of Vladivostok. 

He is seen slowly walking around the hut, and resting close to it - almost invisible to a human eye with its spots blending into the mixtures of bushes and dry leaves - after having a sumptuous meal. The adult male looks relaxed yet cautious, looking back into the camera as if sensing human presence.

‘There were a lot of Amur leopards in Korea in the past, but they have all gone with time. We have a chance to observe them now thanks to Russia’s effort to protect the endangered species’, said the photographer. 

‘I was very impressed by its looks and by how extremely cautious it was when approaching the hut. A leopard is a sensitive predator, measuring its every step with great care and prepared to retreat at any moment’, Kisoon Choi added.

The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia


The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia


The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia
The world’s rarest big cat is filmed in stunning video in Far East of Russia. Pictures: Choi Kisoon


Currently there are 86 grown up cats and 21 cubs and adolescents living in the wild, according to the Land of the Leopard latest photo trap monitoring data. 

The endangered animals’ habitat are two small areas in the south-east of Primorsky region of Russia, and a territory in China close to the border with Russia. 

While the number of Amur leopard is small, it is far larger than two decades ago, and the species is seen as slowly recovering. 

Land of the Leopard reserve’s team is pleased with the result of the first run of the hut they built for wildlife photographers. 

‘Watching wild free-roaming predator is nothing like being in a zoo with caged animals, and comes with a certain number of issues.

'We did a lot of work to simplify the process, and to enlarge a kind of a ‘key hole’ which allows to observe the world’s rarest leopard without disturbing it,’ said reserve's director Victor Bardyuk.

The core population of Amur Leopards is under protection of the Land of the Leopard Nature Reserve, established in 2012 by the Russian government to save the endangered species from extinction.  

Around a century ago, these leopards populated all of the Korean peninsula and two provinces of China. 

READ MORE about photographer Choi Kisoon’s adventures in Russia  

WATCH LEO 12M AKA TYPHOON, FILMED BY CHOI KISOON



Comments (17)

Great photos! How fortunate that Russia is taking measures to preserve the Amur Leopard.
Steve Foster, United States
28/12/2019 07:24
9
0
is it a female ? looks pregnant ?
janine milne, costa rica
28/12/2019 05:55
4
0
12

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